On Thursday morning, a brighter-than-expected outlook for department store chain Macy's (M) sent shares in the company briefly skyward.
However, once reality set in, the stock began to correct itself.
And that reality is that the long-held model of the major national department store is becoming unsustainable.
Macy's said its third-quarter sales in stores that have been open longer than a year dropped by 2.7%, which is better than last year's the 3.9% a year earlier, as well as better than the 2.8% drop that Wall Street had expected.
Profit came in at $17 million, a dismal decrease from the $118 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 4.2% to $5.63 billion.
Earnings per share clocked in at 17 cents, a big miss from analysts' expectations of 41 cents a share, and an even larger drop from 56 cents a share a year earlier.
Comparable sales, excluding licensed departments, fell by 3.3%, worse than the 2.8% drop Wall Street had expected.
However, Macy's has upped its forecast for full-year comparable sales on licensed and owned items, now expecting a decrease between 2.5% and 3%, rather than the 3% to 4% decline the retailer had previously expected. And the company now expects annual diluted earnings per share to fall in a range of $3.15 to $3.40.
But brick-and-mortar retail is clearly hurting, with no end to the pain in sight. Consumers are simply finding it too convenient to shop online with Amazon or other etailers, rather than getting in the car and driving to the mall.
Amazon is even on pace to eclipse Macy's when it comes to apparel sales next year. A few years ago, that sort of move would have been unheard-of, as apparel was considered the one retail space safe from online shopping threats.